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Troubleshooting TIF Files and Microsoft Office Document Imaging

written by: •edited by: Aaron R.•updated: 8/4/2011

Issues in Microsoft Office Document Imaging can be easily resolved with the right fixes and service packs, as we explain...

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    What Are TIF Files?

    TIF (or TIFF) documents are commonly created with scanner software, such as Microsoft Office Document Imaging. The Tagged Image File Format is a particularly popular format for text documents that have been copied with imaging devices.

    However the format is far less common than other image formats, such as GIF, JPEG and PNG, and it is easy to overlook configuring your chosen image viewer or editor to display such a file.

    Nevertheless, Microsoft Office Document Imaging can also be used to open TIF files stored on SharePoint servers or any other location.

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    Using Microsoft Office Document Imaging & Tagged Image Files

    Opening a Tagged Image File in the preferred application should be simply a case of running the software and using the Open tool to browse for the image file.

    However if the TIF has been downloaded or attached as an email, you might prefer to open the file using its association with MS Office Document Imaging. Similarly, your PC may not recognise the TIF file and have no default application associated with it.

    The quick way to resolve this is to right-click the file and select from the Recommended Programs to open the image, taking care to use the Always use the selected program to open this kind of file check box. If no suitable application is listed then use the Browse… button to find Microsoft Office Document Imaging.

    (Image via

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    Office 2007 Issues Opening TIFs

    While assigning a default program (such as Microsoft Office Document Imaging) to open Tagged Image Files is quite straightforward, there are one or two other common issues with these types of files. One such problem is a perceived delay of 5 or more seconds in opening such documents.

    TIF files are almost always extremely large – a quick view of the file properties (accessible via a Windows Explorer window and best viewed by right-clicking the file in question and choosing Properties) will show just how big the file you are opening is. If you were able to compare this to a JPEG image of the same document you would see quite a difference. JPEG is a compressed format, while TIF files contain considerable data and detail. To create smaller files with MS Office Document Imaging, you should choose a lower setting on your scanner.

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    Tagged Image File Issues in Office 2003

    Users of older versions of Document Imaging might also run into problems opening TIF file formats if they have recently installed the Office 2003 Service Pack 3 update, which features various security fixes that unwittingly result in the application failing to open TIF (and Microsoft Document Imaging MDI files).

    As part of shoring up security on TIF and MDI files – two types of file that were identified as posing a potential risk if hijacked – the Microsoft Office 2003 Service Pack 3 update failed to restore the file associations linking TIF files with Microsoft Office Document Imaging.

    This problem was resolved with a Hotfix package, the instructions for which can be found in the references below.


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